Oof: Ballotpedia drops a brutal battleground poll on Trump

Just to twist the knife, they polled not only the Clinton/Trump race but hypothetical match-ups involving Paul Ryan and John Kasich. Turns out those two outperform Trump against Hillary in all seven swing states tested.

It’s a quirky coincidence that this poll, showing a Hillary blowout in battlegrounds, would drop the same day as a Quinnipiac poll showing the race tightening nationally. Until now it’s been the opposite — national polls show Hillary leading with a cushion whereas battlegrounds are tight. I wonder if these results will come up during the next conference call among “Dump Trump” delegates.


Hillary leads by double digits in four of the seven states and by a comfortable seven and nine points in Virginia and Ohio, respectively. The only state that’s close is Iowa. That … does not line up with other battleground polls. According to RCP’s poll averages, Virginia is a four-point Hillary lead right now while Ohio is just a three-point spread. In Florida, before today, Hillary hadn’t seen a double-digit lead since April and that’s one of her stronger states against Trump. She leads there by an average of just 3.4 points. Ballotpedia has Trump pulling a pitiful 35 percent in Pennsylvania and an even more pitiful 33 percent in Michigan. The last poll of Michigan, taken in May, had Trump at 39, just four points back of Hillary. Pennsylvania, meanwhile, has been one of his most competitive states: He trails by just 2.5 points and was above 40 percent in both polls taken there this month.

Anti-Trumpers are noting on social media that if this poll is wacky, it has more to do with overly lofty numbers for Hillary than overly poor numbers for Trump, who’s struggling to get out of the low 40s consistently across various surveys. Fair enough about him having a ceiling, at least for the moment, but it’s simply not true that his numbers here aren’t conspicuously poor. He’s at least four points below his RCP average in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, and RCP actually has him narrowly ahead in North Carolina with 44 percent. On top of all that, the Ballotpedia poll was in the field for an unusually long time, 12 days between June 10th and June 22nd, making it harder to tell how the public was reacting to specific events. That period was also part of Trump’s rough month-long span before he canned Corey Lewandowski and moved towards Paul Manafort’s strategy of more scripted speeches attacking Clinton on foreign policy, the economy, and so forth. We’re now a week removed from the timespan captured by this poll. Is it a useful snapshot of the race today? Maybe not.

On the other hand, it could be that Ballotpedia is picking up early signs of a downturn for Trump, possibly fueled by Hillary’s spending advantage in battlegrounds. Or maybe it’s simply a reflection that the national polls showing Hillary up five or six points are essentially correct. Nate Silver points out that, despite the gap between Ballotpedia and other swing-state polls, this doesn’t really even qualify as an outlier:

Or maybe it’s as simple as Ballotpedia’s turnout model being screwy: “The results were weighted to approximate major demographic targets based on Census data for each state. The modeled results were predicted using the voter-file matched sample using a wide range of political and demographic variables and weighted for expected turnout probability in a presidential election.” If Trump achieves his goal of turning out many more working-class whites than anyone expects and wins them overwhelmingly, these numbers are obviously low-balling him. The safe takeaway, though — and one that jibes with other swing-state polls — is that Hillary really is ahead right now in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania that Trump needs to win. Doesn’t mean he can’t come back, but it does suggest that a comeback will be necessary. One last point via Liam Donovan: The only state here where Hillary leads all three Republicans outside the margin of error is in Florida, which is essentially a must-have for the GOP to win the election. If Clinton is strong enough there to win against anyone the GOP tosses at her, Republicans are in trouble.